Without A Horse Blanket...
Is My Horse Warm Enough?

First off , here's a couple of facts you can't argue with in the great Horse Blanket debate!

  • You can't decide to blanket your horse based on how cold YOU feel. A horse is most comfortable and not using any energy to heat or cool themselves between 26 -38'F
  • A horse turnout blanket does NOT stop a winter hair coat from growing; that is determined by the duration of the daylight or lights if your horse is kept under lights
  • The thing with blanketing is that once you start YOU are taking responsibility for your horse's thermostat so you have to be around to take blankets on or off depending on the weather.

A horse blanket can get wet and soaked through very quickly—imagine yourself on a cold windy day wearing a wet jacket and no one around to get you a warm dry replacement—your horse wearing a blanket that has gotten wet will chill him super fast and could cause health issues (and even the waterproofing on a waterproof blanket wears off quickly so check it often).

Together with his fluffy long hair, the biggest way your horse stays warm is by eating hay. That keeps his internal furnace working. So be sure to provide enough hay and enough fresh not frozen water (no, horses cannot live on snow to provide their water intake) especially on really cold winter days and nights the best thing is free choice hay and water. As long as you take care of that forage and you provide a place for the horse to get out of the wind, his natural built-in-blanketing system will work.

When your horse grows his winter coat the hair has the ability to loft and lower depending on the temperature. According to the latest research done at the Colorado State University, one of the top veterinary schools, the horse's coat can lower and loft to 17 different levels. It's like they have a built in blanketing system with their own hair coat that acts like 17 different weights of thermal blankets being put on and taken off according to the weather. When you put a blanket on a horse that has his own winter coat of long hair you squash those lofts and layers and you may actually be making him colder.

So you can see that is is not a black and white answer and even that in the majority of cases NOT blanketing is the best decision for your horse.

So when should you blanket your horse?

  • If you have an older horse that doesn't like to eat a lot of hay or has trouble chewing and therefore can't maybe get enough forage to stoke their furnace or if you have a picky eater that doesn't consume a lot of hay
  • Some horses and breeds may not grow a good winter coat and that lighter coat means they will have trouble keeping their temperature at optimal so winter horse blankets are in order.
  • If you have decided to body clip your horse or keep them under lights to stop the winter hair growth
  • An underweight horse or any health concerns that might make it harder for them to keep warm

Keep in mind that if you are blanketing your horse you have to take it off every day and groom him –they get itchy! Keep the blanket dry in all kinds of weather and be prepared to purchase a few different weights of blankets and be there to switch them around depending upon the temperature. If your horse is sweaty from a workout make sure you cool him out properly first with a cooler before blanketing him.

Nature knows best so be sure to work with nature and not against it!



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